Never before have two words carried such a deep and disturbing tone. Never have two words, just five letters, had the capacity to touch lives, invoke response, provoke change, invite conversation, and demand action from all corners of the world, across more than 85 different countries.
Never before have two words been so easily universally understood, bypassing the need for translation, interpretation, or explanation—words echoing in empty offices after rush hour, infiltrating the infamous ovals of parliament, trickling through the streets of India, and bouncing off the walls of celebrity mansions to expose, in such a palpable way, the rampant prevalence of sexual abuse.
Female solidarity has paved the road to modern life as we know it, since the suffragist movement in the late 1900s when our sisters demanded recognition as citizens, worthy of contributing to the workforce, and thus equally worthy of a political opinion.
We saw women’s solidarity in the demand for equal pay in the 1970s, for reproductive and maternal rights in the 80s and 90s, and today in the fierce female energy giving rise to one of the most important socialist and revolutionary causes of our time. Social media is the platform upon which our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, and our friends have refused to stay silent; it’s the medium upon which their voices have made their way onto pages and into newsfeeds and into the living rooms of countless readers and sympathizers.
One by one, with courage and vulnerability, a neighbour, a teacher, a lawyer and stockbroker, a boss, a friend, a news anchor an American idol, admired singer, celebrity, and mentor has typed those words and shared a story that nearly every woman has endured, but nobody wants to talk about, until now.
Created by Tarana Burke and popularized by Alyssa Milano, “MeToo” opened the figurative floodgates, a hashtag phrase that was “used on Facebook by more than more 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours and tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16.” [Stats derived from Wikipedia.com] Those are astounding numbers, and although my name may not be among them, my recognition and support undeniably are.
Knowing the rampant prevalence of abuse among your sisters, do you still have aspirations for a country free of inequality? Do you still hold out for a future where you can walk late at night, without listening for footsteps behind you, without needing a male chaperone to protect you? Do you believe in strength in numbers, in our capacity for revolution, evolution, and change?
(Published in Sweat Equity Magazine March issue)